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United States. Office of the US High Commissioner for Germany / Germany's parliament in action; the September 1949 debate on the government's statement of policy

von Brentano, Heinrich
Comment on the statement of policy of the German federal government delivered in the Bundestag on 21 September 1949 by Dr. Heinrich von Brentano of the Christian Democratic Union,   pp. 39-45

Page 39

Comment on the Statement of Policy of the German Federal Government
delivered in the Bundestag on 21 September 1949 by
Dr. Heinrich von Brentano of the Christian Democratic Union
(Christlich-Demokratische Union - CDU)
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I believe there is no one in the House who can
have remained unaffected by the impression which
the last few days and weeks have made on
each one of us. In these few 'days and weeks, after
the Basic Law went into effect, the first newly-
elected German parliament assembled in order to
implement the Basic Law, in order to organize this
state anew, in order to manifest, for the first time,
the reality of the German Federal Republic, thus
taking an active part in German history for the
first time after many years of compulsory political
I think it is a good thing at a moment like this
to recall the past, since the Germans, while inclined
to have a very strong feeling for their cultural
tradition, seem to have a remarkable! aversion
against acknowledging a political tradition, perhaps
due to a dim feeling that the German people have
so often blundered in their fateful decisions. But
it is a golod and proper thing to recall the past,
for a review of the past is the one thing which
may be most helpful in guarding us from faults
committed in the past, faults which have led Ger-
many down a false path not only once but re-
We should also remember in this context that
one hundred years ago Germans assembled in the
serious-minded endeavor to create a new German
and democratic fatherland, and we should further
remem'ber, the sincere efforts which united 'Ger-
mans in 1919 in the attempt to create a new struct-
ure, after a grievous political, economic, and mili-
tary collapse.
Here already I should like to deal with the ex-
positions of the previous speaker and, to assure
him: The Federal Government, which yesterday
delivered its Statement of Policy before you, has
no intention to revive a 'bylgone order, and I think
you should not, after this declaration, impute such
intentions to this Government!
("Hear, hear!" from the Center and Right)
Ladies and gentlemen, the pronouncement was
made that it was to be feared this Government
would consider it its task to revive a bygone
order and to re-establish an authoritarian property
distribution state,
(Interruption by SPD: "Property-owners' state!")
or rather a property-owners' state. I think we
should not make such imputation right at the
beginning of our political discussion
("Hear, hear!" from Center and Right)
for whoever followed the Governmental Statement
of Policy attentively without 'doubting its sincerity
- and I think there is absolutely no reason for the
latter - cannot have gathered from it that the
Cabinet of our Federal Chancellor Dr. Aldenauer
has any intention of creating a property-owners'
(Renewed assent from Center and Right -
Inbtrjection from the Left: 'Trankfurt Bco-
nomic Policy!")
Later on in my speech I shall also have occasion
to touch upon the Frankfurt Economic Policy.
(Interjection from the Left: "That would be
On the contrary, if I recall to mind yesterday's
Governmental Statement of Policy, which, as stated
by the previous speaker, lasted for 82 minutes, and
if I also recall to mind his own speech of today,
which took more than 90 minutes, then I must
say: I believe I heard a program yesterday, where-
as today I heard criticism which was labelled as
a program at the tail end.
(Lively approval from Center and Right)
If the previous speaker stated that the Govern-
mental Statement of Policy had left out a number
of things and that, in particular, it did not show
the policies the government intends to pursue, then
I can only state: the speaker who preceded me also
left out a number of things, and I am quite willing
to grant him that this was due to lack of time.
But neither did he reveal the policies he intends
to pursue!
(Interjection from SPD: "He did, too, in the
field of housing policy!")
Ladies and gentlemen, as I said: it is very use-
ful to review what happened in the recent past,
in addition, a retrospective survey of the Weimar
Republic seems especially called for. At that time,
in the years that proved decisive, it happened that
those whose task it should have been to protect
and defend German democracy, not only fought
each other, but, even worse, allowed themselves
to 'be overrun by the foes of democracy. This,
ladies and gentlemen, must not and shall not
happen again!
The previous speaker was right in stating that
we are confronted by a special danger, a danger
which I also consider to be great, i. e. that of being
overrun by a national revolutionary movement
which might feed on the desperate living condi-
tions of large segments of our people in the East.
We shall not be able to ward this danger off-
that too, was stated yesterday - with the methods
of a denazification.
("Hear, hear!" from Center and Right)
That system of evaluating political questionnaires
has failed dismally, as had been foreseen from
the very beginning by quite a few sensible Ger-
mans. It reminds me of the attempt to keep out an
imminent danger by drawing a pentagram on the
threshold, trusting in the devils' beneficial -habit

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